'Bookworming' Made Easier

Posted: 10/30/2009 9:13:00 AM
Author: Karin Kloosterman
Source: This article originally appeared in the Jewish Press on Oct. 23, 2009.

'Bookworming' Made Easier
by Karin Kloosterman

Remember when hitting the books meant hunting through dusty card catalogues? And then entering dank campus basements in pursuit of a book that often wasn't where it was supposed to be?

That kind of search and frustration is a thing of the past, thanks to an Israeli-American company called Ex Libris. Students, bookworms and researchers at universities like Harvard, Notre Dame College, and the Librarty of Congress already know the secret. Ex Libris' presence in North America goes back to the early 1990s when the comp[any first penetrated the American market.

With two major search engine procucts, the Aleph 500 and Voyager, "it's the heart of the library system," said Michael Kaplan, director of pre-sales North America for Ex Libris. "We literally have millions of users."

In a nutshell, the company makes it easier for libraries to locate, manage and distribute print, electronic and digital content while providing one interface to the user. Based on key words and other intuitive online search functions, Ex Libris streamlines various existing search systems so students can spend more time styudying, and less on searching for resource material.

Another attractive feature that Ex Libris was the first to offer is the ability to locate non-Roman characters in the library system so that "invisible" books written in Arabic, Chinese, Hebre or Koreanare finally searchable. "This is one of the reasons why Harvards and other sites are into Aleph 500. It was one of the first and few library systems to support non-Roman characters," Kaplan asserts. The company was also one of the first to help libraries catalogue printed books and serials, "prior to that there wasdn't much in the way [of solutions]," says Kaplan. And consider sound recordings, video and musical scores. "There wasn't a solution for anything electronic."

Out of 120 of the largest libraries in the U.S. and Canada, Kaplan points out, more than 50 percent use an Ex Libris system.

The comp[any aso provides a second major product, Voyager, implemented by the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicione, the National Library of Agriculture, UCLA, and others. One of its most crucial pieces of software is SFX, a tool thast helps connect citations and URLs from one database to another. It is a widely used "link revolver" and can be found operating on about 1,800 websites.
Currently, Ex Libris runs 10 offices around the world and impacts millions of users via its 4,600 customers, 2,000 of which are based in the U.S.